Tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure used to correct loose skin on the abdomen, usually a result of massive weight loss. As per the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there was an 11% increase in the number of tummy tucks done in 2016.
Tummy tucks are performed on women who wish to achieve a tighter tummy after multiple pregnancies or obese individuals who achieve massive weight loss. Ideal candidates are adults who are physically healthy with a stable body weight. Doctors advise additional medical tests and diagnostics and prescribe medications or supplements if required.
Patients are advised to stop smoking four weeks before the procedure.
The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and could take up to five hours. The surgeon makes a horizontal incision above the pubic hairline to lift up the upper layer of the skin. The weak muscles of the abdomen are then repaired and the excess fat tissue is removed. After correcting the muscles, the skin is pulled down like a window blind and excess skin is trimmed off before being sutured.
Following the surgery, dressing and support bandages are applied along with drain tubes that can drain out any fluid build-up at the surgery site.
Depending on the complexity and extent of the procedure, patients may need to stay in the hospital for a day or two.
Recovery may take more time than liposuction and doctors advise avoiding strenuous physical activity during the first week. Patients may be able to return to work within four weeks although this can vary depending on the type and extent of the repair carried out. Doctors also advise avoiding lifting heavy weights and bending down at least for the first six weeks after the surgery. Full recovery may take up to six months.
Risks of tummy tuck include bleeding, blood clot formation, infection, poor wound healing, anesthesia-related complications, nerve damage, and fluid build-up. Recovery time is also longer in this procedure and it may not be possible to take up regular exercise and work for some weeks.
Which procedure is ideal for me?
When comparing liposuction vs tummy tuck, liposuction is the best option when there is excess fat to be removed and a tummy tuck is ideal when loose skin needs to be tightened. A combination of liposuction and abdominoplasty called lipoabdominoplasty is performed to remove maximum fat and tighten the skin around the abdomen. Consulting with an experienced surgeon would help determine which procedure is right for you and whether a combination of both is required.